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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

366                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

the spirit of adventure knocked out of them. Karl und A.nna (1928)
is one of the most original of the Heimkehrerromane: two soldiers,
Karl and Richard, are inseparable companions on the eastern front;
and in the lone watches Richard describes his wife and their mar-
ried life so intimately that Karl has every detail imprinted on his
mind. Karl gets home first, and his resemblance to Richard enables
him to impersonate his comrade. Anna suspects; but - and here is
the real theme of the tale - Karl has the very soul of a lover, and
as a woman she is won: she yields to love, not to a husband.
Richard returns; and Karl and Anna leave him to his misery and
set out to find a new home. Karl has seen a star in the east and
followed it and found it; Richard has longed for his bed-mate,
and lost her. Cruder und Schwester (1929) once again proves the
uncanny fascination of incest for German authors - from the
Gregorius of Hartmann von Aue onwards. Flagrantly communistic
is Die Jungerjesu (1950): once more as in Die TLauberbande a band of
youths turn robbers to serve the ends of justice; what they steal
from the rich they give to the poor. In Die deutsche Novelle (1951)
a baroness falls into the power of her servant; she shoots him and
herself. Links wo das Her^ ist (1952) rolls out the saga of Leonhard
Frank's own life in the form of a novel with, in places, scant regard
for elementary decency.

Leonhard Frank's favourite theme of the ruin of man by society
is feverishly and in dithyrambic Nietzschean prose demonstrated
by HERMANN BURTE (1879- ) *n ^s famous novel Wiltfeber der
ewige Deutsche (1912): the hero, a Herrenmensch, perishes because he
cannot adapt himself to the pettiness and disgrace of life. Wiltfeber
is a symbolic distortion of Weltfieber, the disease of Germans,
who roam away from dying villages to the wastes of the outer
world and to the stone wildernesses of cities. This picture of the
city as a ferment of decay (Verwesungsstdtte\ infected with the virus
of Marxism, is Nazi doctrine before the War, and the strange thing
is that already in this tale of a lost German in quest of his home-
land the swastika is proclaimed as the symbol of regeneration.
The German nation, we read, is 'entrasst und entgottet, von einer
fremden Rasse untermrfen einemfremden Gotte\ Christ is described as
one who conquered Judaism in Himself; 'jay der Widerjuden Grossfer
ist der Chris f. The first task of the German is to recover his racial
purity, to return to primitive Germanity, and to escape from the
heritage of Rousseau, who from his filthy mouth blew the breath